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I've also struggled to figure out which types of accounts are best and I did it by looking at the sources of retirement income. There were;

1) Traditional pension (which I don't have)
2) Income from part time or hobby work
3) Social security
4) Taxable retirement accounts (traditional IRA's, 401k, defined contribution pension)
5) Non-taxable retirement accounts (Roth IRA's)

What I finally decided was that since the tax laws and rates are subject to so much change it would be impossible to determine which of these is will be theoretical best investment when I retire. For that reason I've decided to put my money in a mixture of the different account types. Having a mixture of different types could give you flexibility in the future.

One often overlooked aspect of the pros and cons of the taxable and non-taxable accounts is that when you are fully retired you will still have your standard deduction and any property taxes that can be deducted on your income taxes so the first 20 thousand dollars of taxable income is taxed at a very low effective rate. You really want to have some taxable income when you retire to take advantage of your deductions each year.

As someone pointed out you will eventually need to make minimum withdrawals from the traditional IRA but if your minimum withdrawal after age 70.5 is enough to but you in a painfully high tax bracket then you have probably should have retired earlier.

I would suggest investing in the following order;

1)401k up to any company match.

2)If you don't already have a house, and you think you will want to buy one, you might want to save up enough have %20 percent down on a home purchase before any more retirement savings.

3)An amount equal to the 401k comtribution in a Roth IRA

4)Equal amounts in a Traditional IRA(or the 401k if you have good investment choices) and a Roth IRA.

You might want to contribute something like $1.30 to the traditional IRA or 401K for every dollar contributed to the Roth IRA to make them equal after the traditional IRA tax deduction.

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